The name Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav stands out in India’s vast sporting history, and rightly so. He was the first Olympic medalist for an independent India, and that too until 1996, after he beat all odds to capture the bronze medal in the bantamweight category of the wrestling event at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games.
While the other wrestling Olympic medalists in the form of Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt and Sakshi Malik are widely popular among people, the story of the man who won India’s first medal in the sport remains widely unknown and unrecognized. However, that soon might change in the near future.Dutt and Sakshi Malik are widely popular among people, the story of the man who won India’s first medal in the sport remains widely unknown and unrecognized. However, that soon might change in the near future.
Sports biopics such as Dangal, Mary Kom, MS Dhoni and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag have all enjoyed success and have played a key role in bringing forth the struggles athletes go through to reach the top in front of the masses. The next athlete in line is KD Jadhav, whose journey will be depicted on the big screen by professional wrestler and motivational speaker Sangram Singh.
For the 31-year-old, this will be his first foray into the world of acting and preparations are underway for Sangram for the role. According to reports, the film will be directed by Shyam Benegal, who is one of the biggest names in Indian cinema.
Sangram spoke to Sportskeeda about the film and why it is so close to his heart. “When I started wrestling, KD Jadhav was my idol. My coach used to tell us about his incredible story and it really inspired me to follow in his footsteps,” said Sangram.
The word incredible hardly does justice to the magnitude of Jadhav’s struggle and his subsequent feats. He did not have the money to travel to London for the 1948 Olympics in London and as a result, he wrote to the then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru and the Maharaja of Patiala for help.
His pleas were ignored but through contributions, he gathered enough funds to make the trip to England. He missed out on a medal there, but he returned with a determination to do better four years later at the next Games. In 1952, he created history and won bronze – something truly unthinkable at the time for an Indian athlete.
However, fame and recognition have always eluded him. He is the only individual Olympic medalist in the country not to have received a Padma award from the government and he was awarded the Arjuna Award posthumously in the year 2001 – 17 years after his demise.
“I have always wanted to do something for him – something along the lines of a TV show or a film,” revealed Sangram. “I see it as my duty to ensure his family receive more attention and benefits, and that Jadhav receive more attention and benefits, and that Jadhav saahab receives the adulation from the people the same way our other Olympic legends do.”
Talking about the film, he said that he wants to do justice to Jadhav’s achievements and ensure that his story is depicted in a manner that will help it reach in all corners of the country. He added, “Getting a medal during his time was harder than it is today. I will make sure people all over India get to know about his struggle and will appreciate it after watching the film.”
Jadhav’s achievements are truly iconic and his role in the development of Indian sport is one that needs to be recognized better. A large-scale biopic on him is a step in the right direction and here’s hoping that the film will succeed in its cause and Jadhav will finally receive the recognition he deserves.